I am certain that every single one of us at one time or another throughout our lives said something we deeply regret. The moment the words left our lips we knew we were wrong. We may have deeply hurt, wrongly accused, or needlessly offended one or many. In most cases, we summon the courage to admit it – we apologize or we make amends. We always wish we could take those words back.
If we are blessed with common sense and a bit of wisdom we certainly don’t double down on our mistakes. Yet, that is precisely what my colleague from the 19th Assembly district, Representative Ryan Clancy did recently. He made outrageous accusations that police officers, “have neither dignity nor value,” Then when given the opportunity to recant he doubled down.
I reached out to Rep. Clancy to discuss this and to his credit, he got back to me. Suffice to say after a lively discussion we agreed to disagree. I’m saddened by my colleague’s beliefs, but not surprised. I asked him to apologize – he refused. So allow me to offer a different perspective on our law enforcement professionals.
I grew up with a healthy respect for police officers and the rule of law. That was instilled in my home and reinforced at school, at church, and in the community. I think it is fair to say, at least to some extent, law enforcement runs in my family. My daughter is a proud Lieutenant with the Milwaukee Police Department, my brother is a retired Captain with the Waukesha Sheriff Department, my cousin was an agent with the US Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and my grandfather was a proud Milwaukee police officer for 43 years.
The world has turned over many times since my grandfather walked a beat on Milwaukee’s Southside. We have all seen the stories, videos, riots, officers assaulted, spat upon, sworn at, and even murdered in the line of duty. All because these brave men and women have the courage to stand for something bigger than themselves – the rule of law.
In my final year as a Milwaukee Alderman, I attended the funerals of three Milwaukee Police Officers who were killed in the line of duty. I challenge Rep. Clancy to tell the children, parents, and friends of our fallen officers that those heroes, their loved ones, died in vain. Tell them their lives and their profession had neither dignity nor value. Tell that to the tens of thousands of people who call 911 every year in Milwaukee alone begging for help from the police. Tell those officers responding to their calls what you really believe.
I urge Rep. Clancy to tell that to a man who told a moving story years ago at another police officer’s funeral. When the man was just a young boy growing up during the great depression, his father passed away. His mother was left to raise eight children all alone. Almost every day a police officer would come through the backyard, drop off a container of soup on the back porch, and walk away. The man indicated that all too often it was their only meal of the day.
Rep. Clancy, tell him that the officer who helped feed that family, Officer Bob Donovan, my grandfather had neither dignity nor value.
Officers all across America on a daily basis perform acts of kindness that are never written about or viewed on the evening news – they would not want that attention anyway. However, what they do need is our respect, support, and thanks. Our police officers are the thin blue line that separates civilization from chaos.
In this day and age, we have grown accustomed to hearing outrageous, irresponsible comments from outrageous, irresponsible people. The real question is do we hold our elected officials to a higher standard? Perhaps the same standard we hold our police officers to?
With that in mind, I’m asking Rep. Clancy once again to apologize, to admit he needlessly hurt good people, and to admit he was wrong. This requires courage and a certain degree of character – one-tenth the courage and character of the average cop. I sincerely hope he is able to rise to the occasion.
About Rep. Bob Donovan
Donovan grew up in the Jackson Park neighborhood and graduated from Thomas More High School and took courses at both Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Donovan was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 2000 where he focused on public safety matters. As Alderman, Bob worked with various South Side community leaders and businesses to form Operation Impact, which raised private sector dollars to help fund partnerships with the Milwaukee Police Department.
Bob and his wife Kathy live in Greenfield and have 5 grown children and 11 grandkids.
Donovan is serving his first term for the 84th district.
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